China Admits UN Chief to Xinjiang, But Not for Investigation
China is ready to grant UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet access to the Xinjiang region, as long as it is a “friendly” visit and not portrayed as an investigation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the invitation to Bachelet to travel the first half of this year was sent a long time ago.
The South China Morning Post reported citing sources that China has agreed that the visit will occur after next month’s Winter Olympics. Beijing is also said to have pushed for a postponement of a report from Bachelet’s office on Xinjiang.
China is suppressing the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, according to human rights groups and UN experts. The UN has long wanted to look into the region itself to verify allegations of forced labour, torture, forced sterilization and systematic rape of Uyghurs.
Like the Dutch House of Representatives, some European governments and the US are now labelling this as genocide. The Beijing government claims that extremist and terrorist Uyghurs are being re-educated in camps. The country invariably reacts harshly to criticism.
Bachelet previously said a thorough independent investigation is needed. Whether she wants to travel for a courtesy call is doubtful. UN chief Guterres expressed hope last year that a visit could be made without restrictions. Discussions about this have been going on since 2018.